Archaeologists have dated village and cache sites to be more than six thousand years old. Occupation by the ancestors of the Gitxsan is estimated to predate those findings by thousands of years. The land is maintained according to traditional laws, and overseen by House chiefs who ensure that their House territories and people are treated with respect and balance.
The original Gitsegukla village was located below the present day graveyard near the Skeena River. A forest fire destroyed it in 1872, and the community relocated slightly upriver. Following the building of a church, the village divided along religious lines. Methodists moved to the upriver community of Carnaby, and followers of the Salvation Army to Andimaul, although most later returned to Gitsegukla in the decades that followed.
Gitsegukla has been impacted by flooding of the Skeena River. In 1914, a large flood washed away many of the houses of the second village. And in 1936, another flood washed away the entire second village, and many totem poles, leading to the building of the current site higher above the riverbank.
The Totem Poles of Gitsegukla have been the center piece of many paintings and photographs
Looking upriver through the lower village. Note that the Snag-of-the-Sand-Bar totem pole, the pole with the four Thunderbirds, has begun to lean. The pole will fall within a few years. The small structure on the left of the picture is a burial house near the river bank.
Potlatch At GitseguklaA publication of William Beynon’s detailed notes documenting the potlatches of Gitsegukla in 1945. View here at UBC Press
The Burning Of Kitsegukla, 1872A documented account of the events surrounding the burning of Gitsegukla (Kitsegukla). View here
Admin Note: To be removed
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